Former Marine gets more than 11 years for 2012 fatal stabbing on Barracks Row

A former Marine was sentenced Thursday to more than 11 years in prison for fatally stabbing a fellow Marine during a fight outside a restaurant near Capitol Hill’s Barracks Row in 2012.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Russell F. Canan sentenced Michael Poth, 22, to 11 years and three months for the fatal stabbing of Philip Bushong, 24.

Prosecutors had charged Poth with second-degree murder in Bushong’s April 21, 2012, death. But the jury acquitted him of the more serious charge and instead found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

During the November trial, prosecutors argued that Poth, who witnesses had testified had been drinking excessively that evening, approached Bushong and a male friend outside a restaurant in the 700 block of Eighth Street SE. As Poth passed the two men, one witness said Poth used a homosexual slur. A witness then testified that Poth and Bushong, who had also been drinking earlier in the evening, according to testimony, got into an argument, each calling the other a “boot” — a Marine term to describe a poor Marine or someone fresh out of boot camp.

But Poth’s attorney repeatedly argued that his client was only defending himself from Bushong and his friend, who both were about a foot taller than the 5-foot-7, 140-pound Poth, during the altercation.

At the time of the attack, Poth was living in a Marine barracks, about a block from where the stabbing occurred. Before months before the slaying, military officials had initiated an other-than-honorable discharge of Poth for past behavior.

Bushong, who was in the Marine’s Color Guard, was scheduled to be discharged from the Marines less than a week after the stabbing.

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Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of intern Chandra Levy.
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